Trump adds pressure on Venezuela by blocking oil shipments to Cuba – Washington Examiner

The Trump administration on Friday increased economic pressure on Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro by sanctioning 34 vessels used by the country’s oil company PDVSA to transport fuel to Cuba.

A senior administration official told reporters that the action could be followed by additional economic measures against Venezuela, in a protracted effort to force Maduro to step down and allow the country’s elected leader under the constitution, Juan Guaido, to take complete control.

The official also said that the option of using military force to oust Maduro is still an option.

“It remains on the table” and is “seriously being considered,” the administration official said.

But for the time being, the administration will continue to use economic pressure to sway Maduro to step down, with a number tools left in its “toolbox,” the official noted.

The sanctions imposed Friday by the Treasury Department on the 34 vessels will “tighten the noose” around Maduro, the official added.

The Trump administration had already placed sanctions on the oil company PDVSA, restricting the sale of oil to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, representing one of its largest customers.

The restrictions placed on the 34 vessels are meant to make it more difficult for Maduro to ship oil to other regional customers in order to generate revenue, and diminish his influence in the region.

“The story here is there is no future for PDVSA as long as Maduro” remains in power, the administration official said.

He noted that Venezuela’s U.S.-based refinery company, Citgo, has been able to transition to alternate supplies of oil, and is doing better financially than when under Maduro’s control. Citgo is now under the control of the president-elect Guaido.

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